'Hochegger Affair' Enters Bulgaria's Parliament

Bulgaria in EU | March 22, 2012, Thursday // 08:56|  views

Monika Yanova, PR expert and girlfriend of ex PM Sergey Stanishev, is one of the key figures in the Bulgarian twist of the Hochegger scandal. Photo by BGNES

Bulgaria's parliament is scheduled to approve on Thursday the establishment of an ad-hoc body to probe the country's involvement in the Hochegger affair.

The motion was tabled by fifty-four members of the ruling center-right GERB party.

According to Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov a commission at the Austrian Parliament had revealed that Bulgaria's previous three-way coalition government headed by Socialist Prime Minister Stanishev had paid EUR 1.5 M to a company of Austrian lobbyist Peter Hochegger.

Part of the sum returned to the PR agency owned by Monika Yanova, Stanishev's live-in girlfriend, the report alleged.

According to previous reports on the matter, Hochegger's PR agency had been hired by the Stanishev Cabinet in 2008 to hold a one-year promotional campaign to boost Bulgaria's image in the EU.

The public procurement was worth around EUR 1 M.

Ernst Strasser, former Interior Minister of Austria, was said to have been transferred EUR 100 000 of the total sum without any documents indicating his contribution for the fee.

Tsvetanov demanded a probe into the matter by an ad-hoc inquiry committee.

Stanishev, on the other hand, defended himself by saying that GERB had conjured up a Bulgarian link in the corruption scandal in Austria.

Meanwhile Hochegger admitted that Yanova's PR agency had received EUR 270 000 from his company.

He refuted allegations that Stanishev had received any money on the projects, but specified that payments had been made to board members of the project, among them two Austrians (one of them married to a Bulgarian), people from Germany and England, and "a woman from the opposition" whose name he fails to remember.

Hochegger added that Monika Yanova's PR agency had been "our partner agency with which we cooperated".

Last week Bulgaria's ruling party was also implicated in the 'Hochegger affair'.

It was revealed that Rositza Velkova, head of the Bulgarian office of the company of the Austrian lobbyist, is a close friend of Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov.

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Tags: Monika Yanova, Sergey Stanishev, GERB, Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov, lobbyist, Peter Hochegger


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